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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


" The U.S. presidential race might be deadlocked, but when Mitt Romney visits Israel on Sunday, July 29, the presumptive Republican nominee can reasonably expect the most heartfelt welcome he'll receive anywhere outside Utah. Israeli enthusiasm for Romney is not necessarily the result of a carefully cultivated relationship -- as a former governor and business executive he had little time for foreign policy. Instead, affection for the candidate appears to be a clear case of ABO: Anyone But Obama. The proof is in the polling. Thirty percent of Israelis surveyed think U.S.-Israel relations would improve under Romney, while a mere 8 percent said the same about a second Obama term. Among the 300,000 Americans living in Israel (half of whom are eligible to vote), support for Romney is twiceas high as it is for Obama.  Romney's two-day visit -- during which he will also meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad -- is his fourth ever to Israel, and it's his first foreign trip since clinching the Republican nomination. The stop is aimed at two constituencies the candidate is desperate to woo: evangelicals -- reliably Republican but leery of his Mormonism -- and Jewish Americans, heavily concentrated in swing states like Ohio and Florida and vexed, his campaign believes, by Obama's policies toward the Jewish state ... The problem doesn't seem to be that Israelis see Obama as openly hostile -- polls show them evenly split over whether he is "friendly" to their country. Instead, many think the president just doesn't 'get' Israel and lacks the empathyof George W. Bush or even his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton'President Obama never acquired the connection with the Israeli public that President Clinton had,' says Dore Gold, the American-born president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a former advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 'Obama just hasn't managed to have the same 'click' with the man on the street.'
'Many American Jews are very liberal and don't count Israel as one of the top issues in their life,' says Bardash, a New Jersey native who moved to Jerusalem 16 years ago. 'But among those who define themselves as pro-Israel and for whom Israel is important, we believe Obama has lost a lot of support.'" (Foreignpolicy)



"We are midway through the first course at Moscow’s best Italian restaurant when I notice out of the corner of my eye that something on my guest’s plate is moving. Sure enough, at second glance, it turns out that one of the fresh scampi that has just been served to Alexander Lebedev, the billionaire Moscow banker and London newspaperman sitting across from me and waxing eloquent about the Russian potato farming industry, is very, very fresh. In fact, it is trying to get off his plate. Lebedev blocks it with his table knife. He doesn’t mention it and, since I am a well brought-up US Midwesterner – conditioned to make polite conversation even if my lunch partner gets hit by a falling anvil – neither do I. Instead I focus on the Russian potato industry. Lebedev spears and eats the scampi. In my defence, I should add that he chose the restaurant. We are lunching at Bistrot, where a meal costs about as much as a round-trip ticket to Rome. A block from the Moscow river’s Savvinskaya embankment and right around the corner from Soho Rooms, which is sort of the Death Star of Moscow nightclubs, Bistrot is run by uprooted Italians from the town of Forte dei Marmi, a Russianised enclave on the Tuscan coast. 'One [Boris] Berezovsky moves to the south of France and a hundred Berezovskys follow him,' Lebedev says, describing the herd instinct of the Russian leisure class, and referring to the notorious London-based tycoon. As he tells it, some executives of a Russian state bank bought villas in Forte dei Marmi a few years ago, and a throng followed them ... He has also come with a printout. In April the FT published a history of “Lunch with the FT”, and Lebedev has zeroed in on a list of the most expensive lunches (the rule is that the FT always pays). At number nine is his son Evgeny, who presides over the Lebedev media empire in the UK, which includes the Evening Standard and the Independent newspapers. In 2009 Evgeny racked up an impressive £196.13 at London’s Sake No Hana. 'Let’s see if I can beat Evgeny,' says Lebedev, unrolling his napkin with a flourish. I take a look at the menu. This is not going to be hard." (FT)


"Democratic political consultant James Carville warned Democrats to expect a tough presidential race in a fundraising email entitled “nightmare” that he wrote on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Mr. Carville, a television pundit and key strategist on President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign blamed his nightmare scenario on a 'plot to buy the election' enacted by the Koch brothers, 'big-oil' billionaires and Republican super PACs. 'I want to tell you that President Obama has a second term in the bag. I want to tell you that the Koch Brothers are giving up their plot to buy the election,' Mr. Carville wrote. 'But here’s where things really stand: We’re gonna have to go through hell and high-water to win this damn thing It’s gonna be hard. Every big-oil billionaire and Republican Super PAC is throwing the kitchen sink at President Obama.'" (Observer)


" I went to lunch at Michael’s with Tomas Maier and Andrew Preston. Tomas is the creative design director for Bottega Veneta. He and Andrew divide their time between here and Florida, with bon repos in Sagaponack for summertime. The two men also have shops in Amagansett and Palm Beach where they sell all kinds of good things as well as a line designed by Tomas.  Luxury, as defined by Tomas is what used to be known as 'quality.' Quality meant the 'best' — meaning materials, workmanship, utility and design (these are my words, not his). And, Tomas said, the customer who can afford luxury is very sophisticated today. They know how to identify that. Gillian Tett, the US Managing Editor of the Financial Times, was at another table and stopped by for a moment. It turned out that Maier and Preston always read the FT because it’s so good, and so well written, and reminded Gillian that she was the first to write and warn about the Libor mess more than a year ago. She remains the first among mainstream media, in my book to write and warn about that other complications and activities that are wrenching the world’s financial systems." (NYSocialDiary)


"AN hour into her summer of freedom, Tavi Gevinson was stuck somewhere between La Guardia and Degraw Street, inching her way through the rain-soaked traffic in Brooklyn. It was a Monday afternoon in early July, and about 200 teenagers had gathered at Littlefield, the Gowanus performance space, to see the 16-year-old fashion blogger turned online impresario. 'Tavi is on her way — her flight was delayed,' a girl in a floral headband told the expectant crowd, many of them raised on Ms. Gevinson’s offbeat pronouncements over the years ('I strongly feel that daisies are literally the best thing ever'). In the meantime, the audience of mini fashionistas snacked on cupcakes and listened to readings from Rookie, the online magazine that Ms. Gevinson started last fall. The magazine grew out of Ms. Gevinson’s blog, The Style Rookie, which she started at the ripe age of 11. Writing in a spunky, discerning voice, Ms. Gevinson shared ruminations on everything from Proenza Schouler to gym class, and posted unsmiling self-portraits taken at her home, in Oak Park, Ill.
Then, in a whirlwind so sudden it now seems inexorable, Ms. Gevinson became the darling of those she’d revered, like John Galliano, Miuccia Prada and the Mulleavy sisters. Soon she was warping through the celebrity rinse cycle: sitting front row at fashion week, interviewing Rei Kawakubo in Tokyo and drawing praise from Lady Gaga. She even garnered some backlash from old-timers, including a Grazia editor who complained at a Dior show that her bow was blocking the runway.
By the time Teen Vogue named her 'the luckiest 13-year-old on the planet,' in 2009, Ms. Gevinson had appeared on the covers of Pop and Love magazines and starred in a video for Rodarte’s Target line. Later, she was profiled by both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. With her thick glasses and dyed blue-gray hair (Tavi was sometimes mistaken for an outrĂ© granny), she was a petite tastemaker." (NYTimes


"Bahrain's leading opposition party is looking to revive stalled democracy talks, with the hope that U.S. backing will give the country's crown prince more clout as the Sunni ruling family's representative in negotiations. The party, Al Wefaq, views Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa as the government leader most able to reach out to the mainly Shiite opposition, which shook the island with mass protests last year. A security crackdown stifled those demonstrations and strengthened the country's hard-liners—testing ties with the U.S., a longtime ally of Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based. Western-educated, 42-year-old Prince Salman, the king's son and heir to the throne, led talks with the opposition during last year's protests, in which protesters called for political change, improved rights and, in some cases, the downfall of the monarchy. The talks collapsed when the monarchy invited Saudi troops to Bahrain in March 2011 to help silence the rebellion, sidelining the crown prince. Hard-liners in the regime, aligned with the king's uncle, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, gained ascendancy, analysts say. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa is believed to hold a middle ground, but he also has been marginalized by conservative factions, analysts say ...Wefaq sees the crown prince as its best possible partner in the royal family. The crown prince offered concessions early last year in a bid to end the Shiite rebellion, and his appeal among the opposition was bolstered recently when he attended a village Shiite funeral in April. In early May, in a sign of support, the U.S. announced it would resume limited weapons sales to Bahrain during a visit to Washington by the crown prince, who held discussions with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials. 'We wanted to show that he could deliver,' said a senior U.S. official briefed on the Bahrain policy." (WSJ)


"The last time New York's fashion set got together for a day of polo, the main event was people-watching. Hoping to shift the crowds' attention from extravagant hats to the playing field, Nacho Figueras and the Bridgehampton Polo Club decided to relax the dress codes for this summer's season out east. 'The idea was to make polo more about polo and not so much about what was happening in the tents,' the Ralph Lauren poster boy told Style.com at Saturday's match. But despite Figueras' best efforts, the weather gods had a different agenda. 'The field is a little bit wet from the rain last night, so we are actually going to test it now to see if we can play a serious game or not," the polo star said before the match. The crowd got their answer when the game ended after only one period. Instead, the likes of Veronica Webb, Michelle Harper, and Alina Cho sipped Champagne in the VIP tent with co-hosts Peter Brant and Ferrari North America CEO Marco Mattiacci and admired the Ferraris on display. 'Do you think if I show them the giant Ferrari logo tattooed on my back, they will let me take it for a spin?' asked Jenny Shimizu as she checked out the new FF four-seater (the brand's first snow-ready car). 'I actually used to be a mechanic. I really love cars.' As the polo party started to unwind, guests began buzzing about the next event on the agenda, ACRIA's annual Cocktails at Sunset dinner benefitting AIDS research. Held at Ross Bleckner's house in Sagaponack, which once belonged to Truman Capote, the evening kicked off with a silent auction that included work by Julian Schnabel, a hand-cut Waterford crystal bowl, and Francisco Costa's favorite piece, a Barbara Kruger lithograph on wood." (Style)


"Purity in a sport does not mix with popularity, and defending the former is anathema to the hucksters, crooks, and profiteers who encourage the latter. In this I do not include the sportswriters of serious newspapers, with whom I sympathize. They see what’s going on, but they have to report on sports and there are libel laws to protect the guilty. In the birthplace of sports—where else but Greece?—football is as rotten as anywhere on Earth, except in places such as Thailand, where betting comes first and sports second. When my father 'owned' a premier division team during the early 1970s the club’s various agents and advisers skimmed millions off him by bringing in South American 'Greeks' to be sold to the club. The law back then allowed only two foreigners per team, so the rest had to find Greek roots, an easy enough task for the crooked agents peddling them to dear old innocent dad. Some had Greek-sounding names, such as the Mexican Fanis. Others had to invent Greek grandmothers, such as the Argentine Hector Errea. Most of them were incapable of kicking a soccer ball, and some even had trouble running in a straight line. But the experts deemed them on a par with PelĂ©, and father paid ... Regarding karate, we have always wanted to take part in the Olympics but were never able to unite and were outsmarted by taekwondo. The Korean government appears to have bribed the IOC to allow this totally phony martial art to become an Olympian entry. Compared to karate, taekwondo is like playing American touch football or rugby without tackling. The contestants also wear protective equipment in case they hurt themselves, the poor dears. Every time one touches the opponent a score is counted. If this is a martial sport, I’m Monica Lewinsky’s mother. Taekwondo is now an Olympic staple, and it’s not uncommon for some nerdy guy who is quick on his feet to show off a gold medal. I only hope for his sake he doesn’t try it in some Liverpool dive." (Taki)

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